For the past several days, many people have scrambled to get the best deals for everyone on their Christmas shopping list. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects retail sales to reach a total of $720.89 billion during the 2018 holiday season.

Today, local nonprofit organizations are asking people to reach just a little bit deeper into their pocketbooks to help make the season brighter for the entire community.

More than a dozen area nonprofits have started #GivingTuesday this year, including Bona Vista, Family Service Association, Guardian Angel Foundation, Kokomo Humane Society, Literacy Coalition, Nadege, Gilead House, United Way of Howard County, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Samaritan Caregivers, Coordinated Assistance Ministries (CAM), Kokomo Rescue Mission and Kokomo Civic Theatre.

#GivingTuesday is an online movement that kicks off the holiday charitable giving season on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — and after the three major shopping days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Since its inception in 2012, #GivingTuesday has raised more than $300 million online in 150 countries, according to www.givingtuesday.org.

“#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges,” the website stated.

Several of Kokomo’s own nonprofits have started Facebook fundraisers for #GivingTuesday, and Facebook and PayPal will match a total of $7 million in donations given today. Others, like Kokomo Humane Society, have started GoFundMe campaigns. Regardless of the format, they are all asking one thing: Support your community with whatever you can give.

Kokomo Civic Theatre is hoping to raise $1,000 to help cover the cost of sending the cast of “Who Am I This Time? And Other Conundrums of Love” to the 2019 Indiana Community Theatre Association State Festival in Terre Haute in February.

Bona Vista, which serves more than 2,000 individuals daily, created an Amazon Smile Wish List for people to purchase the actual items the organization needs, ranging from educational toys to pots and pans.

Samaritan Caregivers, which provides nonmedical help to people ages 65 and older to help them maintain independent living, is asking people to “Be a hero” by helping feed a needy senior in Howard County. According to Feeding America, 63 percent of senior households are forced to choose between food and medical care and food-insecure seniors will grow to more than 8 million by 2050.

Samaritan Caregivers has been partnering with area food banks like Kokomo Rescue Mission and Crossroads Community Church to collect and deliver food to homebound seniors, and hopes to use the money raised on #GivingTuesday to continue grow and support that program.

“This is the first year that we have jumped into Giving Tuesday,” said Jamey Henderson, executive director of the organization. “We have set our goal pretty low because we have not done it before and we weren’t really sure what to expect. We thought $500 was doable and sort of middle of the road — and we are a small nonprofit so that would give a big boost to our operating budget and help us make sure we are successfully recruiting people to join our cause.”

Kokomo Urban Outreach has also organized its first #GivingTuesday campaign, with a high goal of $50,000. Executive Director Jeff Newton said he heard that Facebook and PayPal were going to match the donations, so he thought he would go big with the goal. Before today’s event began, KUO had already garnered more than $1,500 in donations.

“I just want to thank everyone for supporting us so well — I don’t know what’s going to happen, but $1,000 is great,” Newton said.

The money raised during the #GivingTuesday Facebook campaign will go towards KUO’s youth programs, ManUP, StepUP for Girls and the newest, MiniUP. The organization already has a fundraiser ongoing for its Buddy Bag program, for which Meijer is currently matching donations.

Kokomo Rescue Mission, which supports a six-county area in north central Indiana, will be using the $5,000 it hopes to raise for a multitude of needs, such as operational expenses and providing people food and shelter in the cold winter months. This is the second year the organization has participated in #GivingTuesday, said Director of Development Sally Ripley.

“Our goal is to increase awareness for Giving Tuesday and hopefully grow it into a larger event that we promote every year,” Ripley said, noting the positive response the rescue mission received during last year’s event.

If you contribute to a Facebook fundraiser this year, the nonprofit will receive the donations from Network for Good within 45 to 75 days after the #GivingTuesday event ends. For more information on how you can help, visit www.givingtuesday.org/whats-happening-near-me.

Haley Cawthon can be reached at haley.church@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @HaleyCawthon.

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